By Heresies Distressed

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By Heresies Distressed
By Heresies Distressed cover.jpg
Author David Weber
Cover artist Stephen Youll
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
July 7, 2009
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 608
ISBN 0-7653-1503-3
OCLC 290437083
813/.54 22
LC Class PS3573.E217 B89 2009
Preceded by By Schism Rent Asunder
Followed by A Mighty Fortress

By Heresies Distressed is a science fiction novel written by David Weber and published by Tor Books. It is the third book in the Safehold series. It debuted at number 11 on the July 17, 2009, New York Times best-selling hardcover fiction list,[1] number 25 on the July 24, 2009, list,[2] and number 30 on the July 30, 2009, list.[3]

By Heresies Distressed picks up exactly at the end of Book 2. Together, Books 2 and 3 cover only 15 months, a much shorter period than book 1.


Following the events of By Schism Rent Asunder, Emperor Cayleb of Charis sails off with his fleet to begin his campaign against the League of Corisande, under the leadership of the ruthless, though popular, Prince Hektor Daykyn. At the same time, the Charisian naval units that arrived at Ferayd, after demolishing a significant portion of it as retribution for the Ferayd Massacre, manage to seize the Inquisition's records in the city which turn out to contain the orders their agents received from the "Group of Four" and their prideful reports about zealous execution of those orders. Admiral Rock Point, the commander of the Charisian task force, orders the execution of Father Styvyn Graivyr, the Inquisition's senior priest in Ferayd, along with 15 other priests directly involved with the massacre and has the evidence made public. While the Chief Inquisitor, Zhaspahr Clyntahn, is furious with Charis' actions in Ferayd and demands that Holy War be declared immediately, Chancellor Zahmsyn Trynair is furious at Clyntahn for lying about the orders he issued to his agents in Ferayd. Fearing both the resistance of the secular rulers for holy war, as well as the opposition they face within the Temple, Trynair forces him to accept the punishment of penance that an internal board of inquiry (whose findings are a foregone conclusion) will hand down due to this scandal. Emperor Cayleb first visits Chisholm, to meet his mother-in-law and his new subjects for the first time and to prepare his fleet for the voyage to Corisande. He then sets sails for Zebediah, a duchy that was conquered by Corisande, but whose duke has been in contact with Prince Nahrmahn (now Cayleb's vassal) and who has voiced a willingness to ally with Cayleb against Corinsande.

Cayleb then sets sail to Corisande, where he lands troops in one of the bigger port cities of the island, and attempts to use his troops' superior artillery and rifles to overwhelm the much larger Corisandian army. While the Charisians weapons do force the Corisandians to retreat, they manage to bog down Cayleb's forces in a mountain pass which is the only way to the capital city of Manchyr. With Merlin's assistance (and the help of his advanced technology), Cayleb provides his elite rifleman with the positions of the Corisandian's lookout points along the coast which are supposed to alert the Corisandian army in case the Charisians attempt to outflank them. The Charisian scout-snipers manage to find all of the important lookout points and deal with the lookouts, allowing the Charisians to land troops behind the Corisandian army and trap them in the same mountain pass, leaving very few troops between Cayleb and Manchyr. However, Merlin, who is so focused on the protecting Cayleb and using his SNARCs for gathering intelligence for the campaign, fails to notice two things in time: that Prince Hektor is sending his daughter and younger son accompanied by Earl Coris aboard a ship bound for their relatives in Delferahk; and that there is a conspiracy to assassinate Empress Sharleyan while she is at a spiritual retreat in a monastery, a conspiracy involving Sharleyan's uncle and the Temple Loyalists in Charis. While he and Cayleb fail to come up with a way to notify the navy in time to do anything about Hektor's children (without blowing his cover), he manages to arrive barely in time to save Sharleyan's life. However, he is forced to reveal his true nature to her and her last surviving guardsman and promises to visit her again and to bring Cayleb along for a lengthier explanation. Once Sharleyan returns to the capital, Merlin flies to Charis with Cayleb aboard a reconnaissance skimmer and together they tell Sharleyan the truth, which she and her guardsman manage to accept. He also gives her and Cayleb a communicator so that they can stay in touch with each other and the rest of the "inner circle" who know the truth.

Meanwhile, Hektor accepts that his position is hopeless and is prepared to treat with Cayleb for terms. But before he manages to meet with Cayleb, he and his eldest son and heir are assassinated by agents of the church, who do not want Hektor working willingly with Cayleb and who wish to strap Cayleb with the blame (which is indeed what happens). Cayleb, despite his victory over Corisande, imposes fairly generous terms on the vanquished princedom, and accepts the naming of Hektor's younger son as prince with a regency council made up of Hektor's most prominent military commanders and nobles (though he is unlikely to be able to claim his throne, being far away under the power of the church). In Zion, however, things are not peaceful, as the Group of Four realize that they've just wasted money building galleys which have become obsolete and order the construction of galleons. In addition, Trynair and Clyntahn are preparing public opinion and the vicarite for Holy War, with a fiery speech from the grand vicar (who is little more than a puppet of Trynair's). This in turn causes a great deal of consternation with a group of reformers within the Temple itself, who have been trying for years to combat the corruption that has infected the church. "The Circle" however is impotent to stop the impending disaster and is also betrayed to the Grand Inquisitor by one of its more fearful members. Upon hearing about these reformers who would dare challenge his power, Clyntahn decides to bide his time, waiting for the most opportune moment to move against them, while they in turn rush to save as many of their members and their families as quietly as possible. The story ends with the Group of Four deciding to leave Hektor's son alone for now since he is of little use to them at the moment.


It seems[4] that the titles of both By Schism Rent Asunder and By Heresies Distressed come from lines in the hymn The Church's One Foundation.

Audiobook (Book on CD)[edit]

  • The reader of the Audiobook version was switched to Jason Culp as of By Heresies Distressed.
(Oliver Wyman read the previous two books: Off Armageddon Reef and By Schism Rent Asunder.)


  1. ^ "Hardcover Fiction". New York Times. 2009-07-17. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  2. ^ "Hardcover Fiction". New York Times. 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  3. ^ "Hardcover Fiction". New York Times. 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  4. ^

External links[edit]